What Skills Do You Need to Be a Construction Worker?

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Think you’re cut out for work on a construction site? If you do, you’re probably asking what skills do you need to be a construction worker. After all, not just anybody gets an offer for a great construction job.

Working in construction can be highly rewarding. In addition to the pleasure of being able to work outside for much of the year, construction pays well and can be a very fulfilling way to earn a living. Construction isn’t just another job — it’s a career where you gain experience, develop expertise, and earn more money over time.

So, what skills do you need to be a construction worker? It mostly comes down to your ability to work as a team player, not to mention earning some basic construction credentials. Let’s take a look at the skills you’ll need to demonstrate in order to get your first construction job.

1. Maturity and responsibility

Working on a construction site is a big deal. Everybody works as a team and has to look out for their own safety as well as the safety of their team members.

That being the case, construction professionals must bring a certain level of maturity and responsibility to the job site. It’s not like stocking shelves at a big box store or bussing tables. There’s nothing wrong with those jobs, but the level of responsibility just isn’t the same. If you let your attention wander on a busy construction site, you could put others’ safety at risk. It takes a very different (and higher) level of maturity to work in an environment like that.

That’s not to say construction sites have to be high risk places. What’s important is that you’re prepared for the kinds of risks you will have to take. A basic level of training and studying to earn some core construction credentials can help you understand the risks and responsibilities of working as a construction professional.

Not only will you be more likely to get a job after earning those credentials; you’ll also be more prepared when you arrive for your first day on the job.

Speaking of credentials…

2. NCCER Core

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) offers a credential known as NCCER Core. It’s an introduction to the most fundamental and essential skills that construction professionals need to possess.

To quote NCCER literature, the Core credential:

“[…] provides individuals with basic safety and other necessary knowledge and skills to perform in an introductory capacity on project sites. Completion of this curriculum results in a credential that is recognized by 20 states and meets Perkins requirements.”

To get your first construction job, it’s a good idea to earn your NCCER Core credential before applying. That way, you can show that you’re ready for the job.

So, how do you earn it? A construction training program like Construction Ready will often offer the credential as part of the training course. At Construction Ready, we offer a 20-day training program for the skilled trades. It costs students nothing because it’s fully funded by government grants and private donations. With Construction Ready, you earn NCCER Core, not to mention several other credentials, and 97% of our graduates get their first construction job before graduating!

Construction Ready is a great way to earn NCCER Core, but that’s not the only credential you should have before applying for construction jobs.

3. OSHA Training

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers a 10-hour class for workers entering the labor force. If you’ve ever heard of your “OSHA 10-Hour Card,” that’s what you earn after completing this training. Before starting a job in construction, you should earn it.

It’s basically a job site safety crash course. The information you learn will be essential for keeping you and your team safe on the construction site.

4. Other Safety Credentials

Additional safety training is desirable before applying for construction jobs. Construction employers want you to have safety training so they know you will be a safe worker. As far as actually learning the skills you’ll apply in construction, that will come as you become a more experienced worker.

The additional safety credentials you should earn include:

  • First aid, CPR, BBP, and AED training: You probably know what first aid and CPR are. Even if you’ve been trained in the past, it’s smart to brush up on your knowledge and, in the case of CPR, get re-certified. BBP refers to bloodborne pathogens. In this training, you’ll learn what to do to avoid potentially harmful bodily fluids if someone is injured on the job site. AED training has to do with defibrillators. You’ll learn how to use one in case someone enters cardiac arrest on the job.
  • Forklift safety and flagger certification: Forklifts are all over the place on construction sites, and it’s important to know how to be safe while operating or being around them. As for flagging, it’s important for you to be able to safely direct people and traffic through construction zones. Flagger training ensures you know what you’re doing when provided with that responsibility.
  • Fall protection: This is actually an OSHA credential that teaches you how to identify, avoid, and mitigate the risk of fall hazards.
  • Powder actuated and laser tool certifications: These types of tools are very common on construction sites. Not only will you be around them; before long, you’ll probably be using them, too! These credentials teach you how to safely operate and behave around these tools.

As with NCCER Core and OSHA 10-Hour training, you can earn all of these credentials during the 20-day Construction Ready training course.

Job-specific construction skills? You can learn those on the job.

In the construction world, people tend to work their way up. You begin your career not knowing very much about construction. You might not have any experience in the skilled trades at all.

Then, little by little, you learn. You might get put on a project where you learn about electricity and wiring up buildings. Or maybe you work as a framer’s assistant and learn about carpentry.

In other words, the skills you need to be a construction worker are mostly learned after you get the job. Start out with some fundamental training, such as earning the credentials we mentioned here, and then you can begin your construction career. Everything else comes later, and over time.

If you’re ready to begin your construction career, sign up for a Construction Ready info session today! We want to hear your story and find out whether our training program is a good fit for your career goals!

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